What is Executive Functioning?
Executive functioning is our ability to coordinate our thoughts and actions in a way that makes us efficient learners, thinkers, and actors. A set of skills all come together like an orchestra to play their parts and work toward a common goal. These skills include planning, organization, time management, attention, problem solving, and emotional control. These skills take a long time to develop due to their complexity and typically do not reach full maturity until into adulthood. Those with executive functioning deficits develop these skills even more slowly. To make matters more complicated, these skills impact every part of a person’s day – academic, social, and personal. As such, many students, of all ages, need support around this critical area.
Who needs help?
– People with ADHD frequently have concurrent executive functioning deficits
– EF deficits commonly occur in students with learning disabilities
– Executive dysfunction can occur on its own in people of all ages
– Those who have no clinical deficits but are experiencing a mismatch between their abilities and the demands being put on them.
How does it work?
Executive Functioning coaching is a one on one experience in which the coach and the client (along with parents, teachers, and any others) determine priority behaviors they would like to change or create. Together, the coach and client brainstorm strategies that might work to help move toward this goal. The coach uses guided questioning to help determine the root cause of issues and the first breaks in the chain and specifically target those areas. Once a strategy is underway, sessions are spent troubleshooting to see what is working, what isn’t, and why. Changes are made and strategies are tweaked until a smooth and sustainable balance is found.
Because of the self-reflective nature of coaching, this is best suited for students in middle school or above. For many students, only a portion of a session is spent in direct coaching, and the rest of the time is used toward application of the skills and strategies toward authentic assignments or tasks. Students who are experiencing EF challenges at a younger age are likely best served by a combination of other supports, including academic tutoring where they are taught strategies for schoolwork that are EF focused.